The third Test between England and South Africa finally saw the first ball bowled on Saturday’s third day of play, getting under way in a respectful atmosphere at The Oval after a guard of honour and a minute’s silence to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth.
The toss for the deciding Test in the series, which is poised at 1-1, was won by England on Thursday morning and they elected to bowl.
But the first day was washed out by rain, and the second was cancelled following the announcement of the death of the queen.
The Premier League opted to postpone fixtures that were set to be played this weekend, but it was left to each individual sporting body to decide whether to play or not.
A rousing rendition of “God Save The King” preceded the start of play, sung for the first time in their lives by many at The Oval, and was followed by a long round of applause as images of the queen were displayed around the ground.
“She was someone who dedicated her life to the nation and who we take inspiration from,” England captain Ben Stokes told reporters before play. “We are honoured to be able to walk out and play today.
“Sport is something to come to watch and enjoy, but it also brings people together. It’s great to be stood here knowing we are going to go out and play this game in memory of the Queen.”
The overcast conditions will be helpful to England’s bowlers, who took two wickets within the first 15 minutes. Both the first two games in the series had ended inside three days.
“We have tried to play positive cricket this summer, and we will have to do that again with the test being only three days,” Stokes said.
“Everything we do out on the field will be to try and get a result. We have to go out there and execute the way we can. Because it is such a short game, we have to just concentrate on the here and now, and see where the game goes.
“If we did the toss again, I don’t think we would have done anything different.”